Why do cowboys wear handkerchiefs around their necks?
I've been watching a lot of old western movies and television shows lately and I notice that the cowboys wear handkerchiefs around their necks. Is it a fashion piece, like the ties of today, or does the handkerchief serve a purpose?
Not sure of the history. Working in the sun or heat of the day it is not uncommon for workers to tie a kerchief around the neck. One reason is it absorbs the perspiration and cools the neck region.
Whether by chance or not the thyroid is located in the neck. The thyroid has much to do with regulating body temperature, metabolism, and helping to maintain a state of homeostasis. Many will soak the kerchief with water or place ice in it before tying it around the neck too, thus further cooling the neck.
As suggested how it was discovered or when I am not sure. Working in garages auto repair facilities I learned this trick. We were exposed to the elements with open bays and not in enclosed buildings. The same practice was used in warehouse conditions too. Field workers tend to wear a bandana or kerchief around their neck or keep it around their head until needed I presume.